TAMPA, Fla. — Community college educators from as far as Washington state and the Bahamas descended on Tampa, Fla., last week for the second annual Black, Brown & College Bound Conference. Hosted by Hillsborough Community College and nine other Florida two-year institutions, BBCB featured numerous tracks dedicated to examining and removing barriers to college for young Black and Hispanic males.
Session titles for this year’s conference included “Access is Not Enough in the Recruitment of African-American and Chicano, Hispanic & Latino Males” and “College Retention and Graduation of Males of Color: Knowledge, Skill Sets and Commitment a Triple Threat.”
Attendance at this year’s BBCB was 375, up from 250 last year, and is bound to grow in future conferences, as boosting the representation of minority males in higher education continues to be on the front burner for the numerous urban community colleges represented.
In his keynote address, University of Maryland, Baltimore County President Freeman A. Hrabowski III outlined the crisis confronting young minority males, highlighting statistics that indicate they are becoming at least as likely to go to prison as to go to college. Hrabowski also spoke about the Meyerhoff Scholarship Program at UMBC, which aims to propel young minority males to finish doctorates in STEM disciplines.
Hrabowski said he’s taken some complaints over the Meyerhoff program’s emphasis on men, as some say challenges faced by women are being overlooked.
“People are not comfortable talking about issues of Black and Hispanic boys,” Hrabowski said. “We must teach people that talking about the challenges of one group of children should not and doesn’t have to take away from the challenges that others face. We have programs on our campus for girls and young women, we have programs on our campus for boys and young men, and they can complement each other,” Hrabowski said.
In another keynote, League for Innovation in the Community College President and CEO Gerardo de los Santos outlined how the Hispanic population boom is changing the demographic landscape nationwide. He also spoke of the Achieving a College Education Program within the Maricopa County Community College district in Arizona, which seeks to ease high school students’ transition to college. De los Santos also spoke of a similar initiative within the League.
“The League for Innovation has finished a five-year initiative focused on easing transitions for students moving from high school to community colleges, as a means of trying to align curriculum, to decrease the level of remediation that students are going to have to take, and increase academic performance of students moving through the transitions,” de los Santos said.
“This program is helping to focus efforts on this important transition where a lot of students are lost and fall through the cracks,” he added.
For more on “Black, Brown & College Bound: Strategies, Best Practices, and Model Programs to Strengthen the Future of African-American and Hispanic Males,” see the Dec. 27 issue of Diverse.
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